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Rodriguez tops the district spelling bee

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

When Apalachicola Bay Charter School fifth grader Elena Rodriguez sits down to read, she likes books that keep her turning the pages.

“Ones that are interesting and fun, and not just reality comes up,” she said. “A ‘what’s going to happen next?’ kind of thing.”

Last Friday, at the Eastpoint fire station, before a large audience of parents, what happened next was that Rodriguez spelled the word “lacrosse” correctly, and then followed up with a proper reciting of the word “cannonade,” to top the annual district spelling bee.

Along the way she had spelled “certain,” “teak,” ”exploits,” “Harlem,” “hazmat,” “appetite,” and “palindrome” all correctly.

She defeated the two other top challengers in the eighth and final round, ABC sixth grader Owen Juno and ABC eighth grader Alex Sterling. Juno had to settle for a runner-up slot when he was ousted by the word “anagrams” while Stirling stumbled on the word “turbulent.”

Juno had advanced by spelling “proof,” “shepherd,” “transistor,” “sheriff,” “Antarctic,” and “archives” all properly, while Sterling aced “ramparts,” “amplify,” “Angus,” and “amplify.”

The morning bee at the neutral site brought together 20 of the district’s top spellers, who had topped their classmates in the fourth through eighth grades.

Acting as pronouncer was Apalachicola Times editor David Adlerstein, with Bring Me A Book Franklin director Karen Kessel, and Ed Corps instructor and veteran teacher Elinor Mount-Simmons, as the judges. The bee was coordinated by ABC teacher LeeAnne Poloronis and Franklin County instructional coach Laura King.

Taking part among the fourth graders were Bella Polous and Presley Hicks, from the ABC School, and Sha’Niyah Scott and Kayden Drake, from Franklin County; fifth graders Ryder James and Sienna Polous, from Franklin County, and Skye Wilsey from ABC; sixth graders Kyler Beebe and Lakyn Queen, from Franklin County, and Will Rowland. From ABC; seventh graders Issy Nations and Suzelle Scarabin, from ABC, and Deegan Estrada and Estella Peralta from Franklin County; and eighth graders Courtney Jackson and Emily Patterson from Franklin County, and Alonnah Segree, from ABC.

The students mastered many a word at the bee, but such words as “smidgen,” “scoundrel,” and “vacancy” gave them trouble.

Rodriguez said afterwards she mainly reads at home in her room. “Sometimes I forget my books at home because I’m in such a rush to get to school,” she said.

She has read J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter works, plus she mentioned enjoying “Alien Superstar” works by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” a 1960 children's novel by American writer Scott O'Dell.

“I like science fiction,” Rodriguez said. “They’re interesting because you don’t get bored.”

The daughter of Apalachicola residents Erin Rodriguez and Anna-Maria Cannatella, the young spelling champ isn’t sure what she’ll eventually pursue as a career, but she does know that she wants to attend a small liberal arts college, and then go on to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“That’s because my dad went there,” she said.